tv [untitled] February 19, 2011 10:00am-10:30am PST
system -- the american public school system, the lower income population is not playing the role they should play. we are not adequately educating these children. the classrooms are too crowded -- that is all over the tv in new york. they blame it all on teachers. i think the youth deserve better. that is what i think. [applause] we have to start not when they are a teenager, but pre-k. [applause] >> you have said what families need to do. as a person in school, we know how much of our children's time is spent in school. we are often the surrogate
parents for a length of time, so we have a particular responsibility in schools to get some of this truth out. i just want to throw this out for black history month. we need to ask ourselves, what information is being shared that is worthwhile, that will help young african-americans, and others, understand the nature of the society we live in? many useless activities are engaged in in black history month. i am sorry to say. it is still early. we have a chance to review. but i want to be clear. when you listen to the kind of statistics bryonn bain put out, the way that the structure still works, it is important we put that kind of information into the hands of young people to understand what we are addressing and also what we need to do to change it.
in canada -- i recently did some work in nova scotia. their slogan for black history month is educate 12 months, celebrate one. so we have a lot to work on, to look back to, and to look forward to. i just want to say, that is something we cannot miss. when we talk about episodes like bryonn described, if it happened twice, it is an accident, twice, an accident. but when it happens three, four, five times, it is a pattern. we need to ask how we can address this pattern of injustice and racism. i want to ask what difference does it work has made as an artist in this field? we understand things can be different, you know. >> i am actually doing a show
talking about my experiences. i worked with a talented group of other artists to tell the story of my experience of being thrown in jail for a short period of time, alongside the story of a brother on death row, the father of the crips, should have been pardoned. the excused him. after being nominated for the nobel prize. he left los angeles, was in texas. he went along with a drug deal. it went bad. somebody got shot. he was locked up for 18 years of his life and was on death row until 2005 when the supreme
court decided you could not execute minors. you cannot even be part of the european union if you have capital punishment. and we are still killing kids in this country. this blew my mind. ia read -- i read his poetry and store it and i shared his story alongside mine. i knew that it would do more than if i just talked about my own personal experience. that story, we started working on it -- we have been rented for seven years. we did the show in houston, his family came out. people came up after the show and said, 31 years i have been locked up. i have never felt more like a thief because i got this show for free. during the thanksgiving holiday, -- we have been doing the show for a full year now.
we went to singapore, the netherlands, belgium a federal court judge then announced that mr. william should be released from prison. [applause] he is currently still in prison because the state has an appeal, but the judge basically said, it will be remanded to the same judge at said the evidence was bogus. the police department basically botched all the evidence. they executed more people in harris county than in many states. the judge says by next year this time, they fully expect him to be home with his family after being locked up for more than 18 years, more than half his life. so even just a small part of this victory on the horizon, that has been a blessing and an honor to be a part of that.
i have a friend who is a skinhead -- was a skinhead. he was a white guy who used to beat up black people and gay people in texas. when he was the same age of the guy that got into trouble with the law as well, they used to hang outside of dallas. they would wait on a park bench, send a guy out, and when somebody came out to flirt with him, they would beat him up. that was their weekend fun. they would go gay bashing. a situation happened with -- jason was his name. he went out with two of his buddies. they jumped a guy. the guy knew martial arts or something and started within their ass -- whipping their ass. it would be a great story if it
ended there, but one of the skinheads pulled out a gun, shot the man, and killed him. the judge immediately said, the guy who pulled the trigger got life in jail. the other guys, since you boys were on drugs or whatever, you could either do life with your friend or one year in a drug detention treatment facility. you see the difference already, right? when he tells the story, we toured together. he says, "i have white privilege. he said -- i learned about white privilege from this experience." he was totally change because they put him in a cell with a gay black man who was hiv- positive, and he watched this man die, and it just changed his life. he came out, left the movement, married a woman from thailand, had a bunch of brown babies. [laughter]
had to quit his job at the pornography store because having daughters was not going to make that work for him. and he started poetry. i heard him in 1999, the same situation -- the same year the situation happened. said his daughter is part ti, part laotian, part redneck, part hick. he said she would walk down the street and great people in multi-cultural phrases. he uses the story to say something that people often do not here when i say it. that there is such a thing as white privilege as much as there is male privilege. those with any sense of freedom and justice have to find a way to reconstruct their privilege, if we want to actually make the better world -- the world a better place for our children and their children. [applause] >> we have had pieces of these
very interesting lives that can show us what the state of things happens to be. i year over year that the signs were up, of what you could do. the laws in some ways were clear on the books. one difference is that the laws are not as clear on the books, but just as active. here, people were struggling. they knew they had to fight. they knew they had to stand up, but we are still in a certain amount of denial about this. those of you who have read michele alexander's booke, it says that this needs to be a national conversation. part of the national conversation, i hope, is here. that is why we are going to turn it over to you, to engage in
some conversation with our guests. >> i just want to say to the young people today, especially teenagers, boys and girls, some of whom might have been incarcerated, what advice would you give to them? >> first thing i would say -- believe in yourself. if you do not believe in yourself and have some kind of faith and try to work hard, and listen to your teachers and take advantage of all the resources that you have, learning resources. >> today is super bowl sunday. what can our black men in the nfl do to help us have some great people? that is the only place i get to see a positive role model is by watching sports. i think we have a lot of cultures we could really bring together, but we are not joining. >> great question. in 1968, when we saw the black
system in the air, that did not happen in a vacuum. it happened in the context of a broader movement. i think we have to remember that. because the building of that movement, the movement for progressive action, revolutionary action --, you know, if we are going to talk about revolution and fundamental systemic change in society, we have to really understand the that is about building consciousness, building awareness, and being committed to the grimy role that is not always going to be on super bowl sunday on the big screen. it will not always capture that. if you want to push the revolution now and start handing of guns, you might shoot me, right? we do not have an understanding of exactly what needs to happen and how it needs to happen. i think education is critical. we have to push for an education that we're just not receiving
for the most part. there are pockets of that happening, but i think that awareness will produce the next scenario -- the next generation of folks in entertainment, in the arts and all these arenas that are high-profile but with the embedded with this consciousness that will demand the stand up and say something. no more of the michael jordan cannot speak out because politics is not a good thing to speak out against. it will be the jamaican musicians, the peter toshes and bob marleys -- the people -- the politicians had to be responsive to what people were saying and doing because there was a movement around these high- profile folks. they cannot just represent the movement. they have to come out of the movement. it has to be present in our communities and schools and prisons even for that to happen.
otherwise, we end up with the tail wagging the dog. these boats we have artificially created to be our saviors, and we need to be our own saviors. [applause] >> how do you see -- and this is to either one of you -- do you see the new disciplinary action, the prison system at this point, and where do we go? because you are doing wonderful work in the system. where we go to make that not happen anymore? >> i also want to throw out because sister davis is here and working with restorative justice for youth, to invite her voice into that question as well. >> what we are doing in oakland is to try to break the school to prison pipeline by coming up with alternatives to incarceration.
in this case, restorative alternatives. instead of saying a young person has a fight and hurting someone, instead of sending that young person ought to be incarcerated immediately, what we do is we put him or her and supporters, family members in a circle with the person who was harmed along with their family members and a facilitator, and that young person has the opportunity to sit face-to-face across from the person that was harmed and hear that person say, "you have devastated me. this is how. here are the human consequences of his or her actions, and the circle all together will come up with an action for the person to repair the harm. this is just an example -- say it is a case of a young person who has burned down a building, someone's home or business. instead of sending that person off to be incarcerated, he or she could be by the circle sentenced to serve 200 hours,
being the personal assistant for a burn patient. that is the kind of thing that will really transform lives. [applause] in oakland, what we are trying to do is engage in these restorative actions, have restored a justice instead of punitive justice. with punitive, we just add more harm to the harm, and it gets greater and greater. we are trying to have a justice that heals the harm so we can begin to transform not only lives but transform the systems because the systems need to be healing systems. as obama says, we need to start uttering healing words. president obama said that at the tucson memorial. we have to start uttering healing words to one another instead of wounding words. what we are trying to do is create systems -- school systems
and juvenile justice system is that he'll instead of juvenile justice systems and school systems that continue to wound our youth. >> can i just say something about the systems of discipline in schools? so that before it even gets to the place where it is an issue, is that those systems definitely need changing. the question that parents need to ask when they have been told that their child has been involved in some misbehavior is to ask what was happening? what were the conditions? what were the circumstances? what were the antecedence that led to this behavior? because if we do not fix those, we will seed the systems you talk about. [applause] it is amazing how many young people can be turned back from negative behavior if the situation is appropriately addressed in schools. looking at the circumstances
that give rise to boredom and bad conduct. so i encourage parents and teachers to ask what conditions are being created that contribute to the conduct. just want to say that because we could stop it earlier. [applause] >> i want to thank the panel for being here today. i was in the civil rights movement as well. we marched in -- down on canal street. down at woolworth's. we closed down the university. then, from there, we sat down. we could not leave. they threw pies at s. from there, we got jailed three times. the dogs were put on us. the fire hoses.
all this in new orleans, louisiana. we met with dr. king. he came to our church. he was beaten. you could see that on television every night where the ministers were beaten trying to get people to vote down in new orleans and baton rouge. when i came down here, the same thing was going on. we went to san francisco state university to get my credentials and my master's degree. we had to close the school down to get to ethnic studies. the police marching on us at san francisco state. after leaving new orleans and coming here, it was still a fight. comparing the schools, yes, i can see the different -- i can see the difference. those parents are there, and they bring in money for those
schools, and they have all kinds of book fairs and arts festivals, computer labs, and at hunters point, it is a whole different story. you do not have a computer labs there. we do not have a parent involvement. it is a total difference. >> your perspective on jamal, awaiting the decision on whether he will be executed or spend his life in prison. >> he should be released. [applause] one of my professors actually is working on his case, so i have been following through her visits and conversations, but i think it is the quintessential example of what is happening with the intellects in our community. he is a brilliant brother. if you have not gone on youtube and seen him offering his
insight on any number of social political issues -- i mean geopolitical issues, what is happening in afghanistan and iraq, what is happening with education in this country. his analysis -- the death of his insight and analysis i think is just undeniable -- the debt -- the depth of his insight and analysis is just undeniable. it is a reflection of how comfortable and distracted many of us our -- us are that we have not created a more sustained movement around cases like this. i voted for barack obama. i would vote for him again when the time comes. at the same time, i get asked this question so often, right? are we post-race? are we past racism because there is a black man in the white house? the question is, i mean, was england post-gender with margaret thatcher?
indira gandhi, was in the a post-gender when bolivia elected its first working class president, where the post-class? i mean, it is a reflection of the dichotomy. the movement -- you cannot deny the accomplishments of the movement. the human rights movement, which we need to begin talking about more, and malcolm x began to increasingly before he was assassinated, but the thing is, these smokescreens get thrown at us, and we fall over and over again. happen with clarence thomas in a certain way, right, you know? in a more evil way, many of us have gotten comfortable because rock is in the white house, but he cannot be most effective unless we are on his ass, right? we voted, so i will go home now,
and see you in four years. the republicans, the tea party, all these folks, they are on his ass, so if you believe that all that there is power in that position, and there are folks that make convincing arguments about a black face on white supremacy, so there is complications, but can progress be made? can progress be made with that position? absolutely. but while we honor and acknowledge that, we have to look at the masses of folks, and i think jamal represents the conditions of the masses that we need to be focused on. >> did you want to say something? it looked as though you were starting to say something. >> i will say, he said the same thing i was thinking. people ask me how i feel about
having an african-american president. i said i had ambivalent feelings. on the one hand, i know that he is only one man and he can only do so much, and he only has four years to do it, but we as a people have to unite locally in the city, and first, you start in the home, and then you go to the community, and our churches, where the movement began, in our churches. i still feel that barack obama is doing the best he can for one man, from what he inherited from the other administration. [applause] >> thank you. first, i would like to say thank
you to awele and the san francisco unified school district and the african american center and everyone else involved in bringing this program to the san francisco public library on black history month. secondly, you were speaking about the constructing the narrative paradigm, okay? what indicators and trends? because of your work that you have done in the prison systems, particularly with young people and older african-american males -- since they are under attack, what indicators would you like to see work on first? because it has to be a start somewhere. we can all start in different places, but what can we do collectively to start making change? >> excellent question. the sister just a little while ago talked about breaking the public school to prison pipeline. that is one concrete thing that we can focus our energy on.
i know there are folks in this room actively working on that. there is also building a corrections to college pipeline, the present to employment pipeline. the incarceration halls in communities pipeline, so building those mechanisms. i spent the last year once a month working with a reentry group in boston, and it actually was funded by obama's stimulus plan. everybody wonders where the stimulus program money went, and one thing if it was fun this program. working with the oldest anti- party organization in new england, which ted kennedy was a champion of. we created a series of workshops for the whole year based around a human-rights platform. not looking at these folks who need to be saved but as folks who can engage in a dynamic process to think critically about the situation they are in,
understand the situation they are in so they can make informed choices and the other folks on to the information they are getting. we took malcolms idea. we got the united nations convention of the rights of a child. we constructed some of the basic elements. over the years, we created human rights report cards where the young folks in me this organization, who were just coming home, one month they did a report card with a graded the public schools. the next month, they greeted the police in their community. the next month, they greeted the health care services in their community. all of these things -- there's an international convention that says young people have a basic human rights. not citizenship rights but human-rights that need to be protected around the world. everybody in the united nations assembly signed this except for the united states and somalia. we have begun to gather the
information. i have a little bit more literature year if you want to talk afterwards, and some examples of that, but that is one of the things we need to do. let's look at the fundamental violations of our rights that are happening in your community and think about how we can elevate this to a level of international acclaim. it may seem a ways down the road, but if we are working in solidarity to actually gather this information, while we're fixing the problem at the same time, i think that is one plausible direction for us to go in. >> hello. thank you for coming. in a native san franciscan. i have actually two questions. one is i had the experience of staying in atlanta, georgia, for several years, and one of the things i saw was the prosperity
and how they actually really took care of business. is there any way to kind of model that system or progress that was made in atlanta and kind of import it into the black communities that we see here today that struggle economically? i think that that would be something to take a look at. and also, how or what would you suggest to shed light on the lynching that still continues in the south in counties like forsyth? >> i do not know about different cities. different cities have different demographics. in atlanta, -- i speak about atlanta because that is where my son lives, in atlanta, georgia. in atlanta, you have the
african-americans who go away and they come back. they are educated, and they are more goal-oriented. they are more goal-oriented, and therefore, if you teach the children to reach for the sky, and they will study hard. most people from atlanta are a little more conservative. >> do you have something you would like to add to that about economic situations? >> i definitely think -- this is -- you know, the old saying, it is not rocket science? some of this stuff is harder than rocket science because it involves people, and we do not always act in a logical, decisive way. elaine